Using the information they gathered from previous encounters, the party tracks down Sher-Tuuz, and assaults his tower. The tower proves to be three floors of different styles.
The first floor is made of earth, and contains architecture and art made of earth and stone. Duergar guard the area, but are defeated. Grimclaw feels an odd affinity with this room, and is able to move its walls to fortify the structure, though his influence is fleeting.
The second floor contains arcane implements and strange symbols on the walls. Gnolls infest the area, and put up a decent fight. Paik takes the form of one of the gnolls to scout the top floor and attempt to bring the gnoll leaders down into an ambush, but the gambit fails when the gnolls prove to not care about their subordinates.
The third floor contains rows of bookshelves, a fireplace, and a beholder. This is Sher-Tuuz, of the Golden Circle. He sits waiting with the gnoll leaders and his captive rust monsters, which are to be sold to the gnolls. In the corner are four captives: a tree-man, a dragonborn, a human, and a drow.
Sher-Tuuz unleashes the rust monsters to demonstrate their power to the gnolls. The tide turns against Sher-Tuuz as the majority of the party focuses on attacking him instead of his rust monsters, and the gnolls are called in to help. After knocking out Seryus and devouring his armour, the rust monsters and Sher-Tuuz are defeated, and the gnolls slaughtered shortly thereafter.
The captives turn out to be the Cats of Thleen, a band of thieves containing Healena’s twin sister. Mistrust is developed immediately when Artemique, the drow leader of the Cats, kills Sher-Tuuz before the party has a chance to question him on the Golden Circle’s plans for the area. After conversing with the Cats, the party decides to trust them to a point, but take care to not reveal too much personal information.
The Cats tell the party that the tower is theirs, but Sher-tuuz tracked them down after they stole an item from him. this item, hidden in the fireplace, turns out to be a chaos shard.
They further explain that each level of the tower belongs to one (or two, in the case of Artemique and Healena’s sister) of them, with Quillburn the tree-man inhabiting the first level where he is closest with nature, Mystra the dragonborn inhabiting the second level with her arcane experiments, and the other two inhabiting the top level where they engage in “intellectual pursuits”.
Though not everybody trusts the Cats, the groups stay friendly toward each other.
A Seryus Journal Entry
We struck our first major blow against the golden circle today! Shur-Tuuz, their leader in the area, lies dead, struck down in vengeance of his misdeeds. He was some sort of demon or aberration, which surprised me. How powerful is the golden circle when they have access to things like that?
Regardless, he’s dead, and we proved that we can take on anything the circle can throw at us. My armour was destroyed in the fight, eaten by a rust monster. I’ve had that armour since I was accepted into the order, and I feel naked without it. I’ve commissioned a new set, so hopefully that’ll be ready soon.
As it turns out, Shur-Tuuz’s tower actually belonged to a group of thieves, the Cats of Thleen. Their leader delivered the killing blow to a gnoll prisoner, even though we wanted to interrogate him about the circle’s plans for the area. That was a setback, but we can deal with it later. For now, I celebrate our victory.